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I didn’t have enough cat links or enough linguistics links for a full post. July 18, 2017

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Linguistics links:

Nothing new under the sun: “in tibullus 1.8 (a poem about his boyfriend Marathus) has this line about “pugnantibus linguis” (literally battling tongues) which means that the idea of tongues battling for dominance in homoerotic fiction has been going on since at least the 1st century bce

From Seaspeak to Singlish: cool English dialects and English-based creoles.

Hawaiian pidgin has a great all-purpose noun — it’s “you-know-what”, “whatchamacallit”, “so-and-so”, and “the thing” all at once.

Cat links:

Before there were laptops, cats were happy to sit on our portable typewriters.

“I was right there in case he got upset — I was expecting him to hiss or growl or slink away. But then one of the ginger kittens started licking Mason’s ear, and Mason sort of leaned into it and closed his eyes like it was the most amazing thing ever.

Vintage selfies, immoral tea, and Victorian manspreading March 20, 2017

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Today in Older Than They Think: The first portrait photograph ever made, in 1839…and guess what, it was a selfie.

Tea causes lack of sleep, weakens the nerves, corrupts boys, and is a gateway to prostitution for girls: a Kids These Days screed from 1833.

Things that were sure to corrupt women over the years: bicycles, novels, the post office, and the telephone.

A writer hating on Kids These Days for no longer being able to speak proper English…in 1440, where those darn kids were ruining their Anglo-Saxon by using newfangled words from Norman French.

Cartoon from Victorian London about…what today we call “manspreading.” (They called it “sitting wide” or “the roomy dodge.”)

Three generations of slang, as of 1925. Fun to see which ones are normal in the present day (“wallflower”, “cheapskate”), which sound adorably outdated (“red-hot mama”, “bully!”), and which have morphed to mean completely different things (“guy”, “spoofing”).

“On The Subject of Noncon Fanworks” September 25, 2016

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An excellent essay about darkfic and sexuality (cw: author discusses her own trauma/abuse history). Centered on Sherlock fandom, though the general ideas apply no matter what characters you’re writing about.

I wanted to highlight this part:

If, instead of normalizing the existence of fics that portray noncon and underage, we make these themes taboo, if we pathologize them, if we require noncon works to be kept in a separate archive, if we insist that it be labeled with derogatory terms like “rapefic,” then what will happen is that writers who think that their work has “a bit of dubcon” in it will not tag it as such, in the hopes that it will fly under the radar and they won’t be banished to the leper colony with the filthy rapefic fans. This will have results that neither the responsible creators and consumers of noncon, nor the people who dislike it and categorically oppose it, want: that someone who doesn’t want to see noncon will see it.

I wrote the above paragraph close to a year ago, and my predictions are already coming true. I have seen noncon and underage fanworks being posted without appropriate tags and warnings. Some of these inadequately tagged fics are being posted by the same people who accused me and my fellow gender politics panelists of being rape apologists and pedophiles. The creators of these works defend them as being somehow different than the works the so-called rape apologists create, because they themselves were underage when they drew the fanart or wrote the fic, or because the work features the right” pairing, or the “right” kind of non-consensual situation, or because they don’t “eroticize” the noncon aspect, or because there’s a sufficient amount of comfort to offset the hurt, or for any number of other reasons.

It’s framed as a prediction, and maybe with respect to Sherlock fandom it is, but for fandom in general it’s nothing new. I remember wrestling with the same kind of cognitive dissonance more than a decade ago:

“Okay, I like stories where characters get hurt, but that’s a Bad Thing to enjoy. But I also like the emotional payoff when characters are rescued at the end! So when describing this, I should emphasize the rescue part. Imply that any scenes with pain and suffering are just a necessary evil on the way to the morally-acceptable payoff. Or, hey, maybe don’t mention the suffering at all.”

That mindset not only discourages people from warning for dark story elements, it stifles the general discussion about them, so that even if you want to warn, you can’t pick up the vocabulary to do it well.

I remember one fic of mine — it had a brief sex scene, and it was consensual, just incredibly unhealthy. Potentially very upsetting! And the only warning I put on it was a general sexual-content label. Partly because I was erring on the side of what looked more Morally Pure, but also because it was neither “non-con” nor “sex that is positive and affirming and healthy in every way” — and I didn’t have a handle on how to articulate the situations in between.

Fandom in general should be a place that helps people figure this stuff out, not a place where people get shamed and shouted down for trying.

Old stuff: math teachings from 1917, scandalous pop songs from 1909, cat video from 1903 February 8, 2016

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In reverse chronological order!

Books are Weapons in the War on Ideas: the librarians who worked with the army in WWI and WWII.

“…contractors removing old chalkboards at Emerson High School in Oklahoma City made a startling discovery: Underneath them rested another set of chalkboards, untouched since 1917.” Historical penmanship and out-of-date multiplication methods ahoy!

“It may seem like a Halloween hoax fit for the eerie October holiday. But officials from the MBTA say the discovery of two tattered rags affixed to strange masks at Government Center Station is all too real.

How a sexed-up viral hit from the summer of ’09—1909—changed American pop music forever.” (Excerpts: “It was used in advertisements for everything from Broadway musicals to pretzels. It was translated by newspapers into Esperanto (“Ho! Vi kaprido!”). It was bellowed by a lovelorn Philadelphian as he leaped from a bridge into the Schuylkill River, attempting suicide. It brought scandal to a church in Geneva, Ill., when a prankster altered the hymnal, adding the line “but, oh, you kid!” to the lyrics of the devotional “I Love My God.””)

Millennial in China taking an excited photo with a bowl of rice. And by “millennial” I mean “circa 1900-1904.” Next time you hear someone complaining about Kids These Days sharing photos of their lunches on Instagram, you can bring up this hard evidence that the generation from a hundred years ago would have done the exact same thing.

The first close-up shot in recorded film was from 1903’s “The Sick Kitten”. In other words, humans have been making cat videos literally for as long as it as been possible to do so.

Check out these 19th-century warnings about that most morally-degrading of modern habits. It leads to crime, mental anguish, weakening intelligence, and corruption among the children! Clearly, respectable people should have nothing to do with…novel-reading.

Science!: toothy dinosaurs, adapting our brains to Google, language of whistling, Earth with rings, and more January 26, 2016

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The dinosaur’s jaw was lined with at least 1,000 teeth with coarse surfaces perfect for pulverizing plants. U. kuukpikensis belongs to the hadrosaur group of duck-billed dinosaurs. It was 25 to 30 feet long, six or seven feet high at the hip, and probably covered with scales.”

“With timelapse cameras, specialists recorded salt water being excluded from the sea ice and sinking. The temperature of this sinking brine, which was well below 0C, caused the water to freeze in an icy sheath around it. Where the so-called “brinicle” met the sea bed, a web of ice formed that froze everything it touched, including sea urchins and starfish.”

“This effort appears to have backfired for the organization—whose mission is to raise awareness about how certain environmental exposures may be linked to autism—since the study SafeMinds supported showed a link between autism and vaccines does not exist.

We’ve begun to fit the machines into an age-old technique we evolved thousands of years ago—“transactive memory.” That’s the art of storing information in the people around us. We have begun to treat search engines, Evernote, and smartphones the way we’ve long treated our spouses, friends, and workmates.”

Unlike all other spoken languages, a whistled form of Turkish requires that “speakers” rely as heavily on the right side of their brains as on the left side, researchers have found.”

“Instead of using ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ to describe Standard American English versus African-American English, Craig’s model uses ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ designations, so there’s no judgment attached to either language. One isn’t ‘better’ than the other per se, it’s all about when it’s appropriate to use one form or the other. It’s ‘this is how you talk in school,’ rather than ‘don’t talk like that.’ Craig calls it ‘a slight change’ that makes a big difference in kids’ attitudes about their own language.

What would Earth’s skies look like with Saturn’s rings? Awesome, gorgeous renderings.

And one (more) big science-based reason why everyone should be able to make a comfortable living wage:

If just one Einstein right now is working 60 hours a week in two jobs just to survive, instead of propelling the entire world forward with another General Theory of Relativity… that loss is truly incalculable. How can we measure the costs of lost innovation? Of businesses never started? Of visions never realized?”

How technology shapes new English accents (1930-present) January 5, 2016

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Saw these two links in quick succession, wanted to put them next to each other.

The Trans-Atlantic accent, recognizable from newsreels and films from the ’30s and ’40s, influenced by the need to be understandable to listeners with low-tech radio receivers

The YouTube voice, recognizable mostly in vloggers whose videos are just talking heads, influenced by the need to keep viewers’ attention in a market full of flashy visual effects